[asa] Re: design and the nature of science (was: Re: [asa] Re: Gingerich onTE and ID)

From: wjp <wjp@swcp.com>
Date: Tue Jun 09 2009 - 22:33:19 EDT

I don't believe that final causes are in principle a "problem"
for science. We find them all the time in biology for example
and many have also suggested that they cannot be replaced by
mere mechanism.

The problem for science is "non-lawful" behavior. Final causes
can be lawful and predictable. They have for that reason
explanatory power.

But processes that are unlawful and cannot be characterized
statistically are, it seems, of little value for a science of
explanation and prediction.

This is why design is so problematic. Unless we know the designer's
intentions, it is not going to be very useful for science.
That does not mean it isn't useful for other purposes.

Just knowing there is a designer is of little value.
We must know something of the designer. Perhaps that can be inferred.
I could imagine a abductive approach to determining the designer's
intentions and ends. It seems, however, that God's ends in the creation
are not simple. This is why there is even a question of whether there
is a designer. If the world were such that evil could have no effect
and bullets would fall to the ground, but baseballs would not, we
might see the hand of a designer and be able to infer that atomic bombs
would not explode, although solar processes succeed.

So I guess that's a question: if we knew there were a designer, how would
it affect the way science proceeds?

bill

On Tue, 9 Jun 2009 18:23:02 -0500, David Campbell <pleuronaia@gmail.com> wrote:
>> So the question arises why, if we can infer an intangible, invisible,
>> massless thing like "gravity", without violating "methodological
>> naturalism", why can't we infer something intangible, invisible and
> massless
>> like "final cause" in nature?  I am not arguing that we *should* make
> the
>> inference that final causes operate in nature; I am only asking why such
> an
>> inference is shut out of science *in principle*.
>
> I can't think of a good reason that final cause would be, in
> principle, excluded from science. However, I do not think it is
> likely that final cause will be amenable to scientific investigation,
> nor do I think that the methods for detecting such advocated by
> Dembski, Behe, etc. actually work.
>
> In other words, I would respond to the theoretical end of ID "go ahead
> and try to find scientific evidence of design if you like, but I'm not
> optimistic that you'll get anywhere."
>
> --
> Dr. David Campbell
> 425 Scientific Collections
> University of Alabama
> "I think of my happy condition, surrounded by acres of clams"
>
>
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Received on Tue Jun 9 22:33:54 2009

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